Healthy fisheries and ecosystems are vital to the livelihoods of coastal communities across Cuba, a nation with a rich with history of fisheries science and innovative conservation programs. However, scientists estimate that the majority of fish stocks on the island are depleted or in decline due to several factors including overfishing.

The recent passage of a new fisheries law, which calls for science-based sustainable fisheries management in support of greater food sovereignty and security, conservation and fishing jobs, and a wide array of institutions working to advance fisheries science and management, led by Cuba's Ministry of Food Industry, are working to improve the sustainability of Cuban fisheries and bring greater benefits to the communities that depend on them.

One of the approaches being utilized in Cuba is the Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation (FISHE). FISHE is an 11-step process developed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with input from Cuban experts to evaluate and adaptively manage stocks with limited data efficiently and inexpensively, a critical need for small-scale fisheries around the world.

To help advance adaptive management and the FISHE process in Cuba, EDF has worked with a range of fishery stakeholders and institutions, particularly the Center for Fisheries Research (CIP). During a project call SOS Pesca, CIP and EDF worked with a multidisciplinary and inter-institutional working group and fishing communities to evaluate the vulnerability of species to overfishing based on a Productivity and Susceptibility Analysis (PSA) for the entire nation—a first of its kind effort.

Participants point place species on a PSA
Participants place fish on a PSA chart to visualize the relative vulnerability of finfish species in Cuba

To-date, Cuban institutions have used components of the FISHE framework, including PSAs, to prioritize assessment and management of several finfish stocks. The country is also going through the process of assessing and developing management of multispecies finfish fisheries, including considering the FISHE “fish basket” approach.

In Cuba, using FISHE is part of a larger effort to advance sustainable fisheries management and to foster inter-institutional work. Over many years, EDF has worked with Cuban institutions to host trainings together in order to build technical capacity on topics such as species identification, monitoring techniques, data-limited assessment methods, co-management and spatial management. To help build capacity for adaptive fisheries management, the Center for Marine Research of the University of Havana (CIM-UH), CIP and EDF developed university courses on sustainable fisheries management, bringing together a diverse group of fishery and conservation professionals from across Cuba. The professionals who attended the courses used FISHE to practice assessing stocks and drafting management plans. Cuba’s Ministry of Food Industry also worked with EDF to host a fisher’s forum using a learning networks approach to strengthen existing efforts for coastal communities to share their knowledge and experience and work with managers and other SSF stakeholders.

Small-scale fisheries around the world are often multispecies fisheries where there is limited data and financial resources. Resources like FISHE are a key strategy to adaptively manage SSF using the resources that are available. To learn more about FISHE visit the resource page here.

A student presents their results during a university course in Cuba
During a course on sustainable management, students used FISHE to practice assessing stocks and develop fishery management plans. 


This article is part of the SSF Highlights series of articles published regularly to the SSF Hub.  To read previous SSF Highlights, follow this link


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